Sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be a life-altering experience. While some TBIs can be mild and require little in terms of care and treatment, serious TBIs can lead to a range of lifelong health issues – not just in terms of brain health or injury but across all walks of life. Combined with the high cost of medical care, some people struggle to really make a recovery from a brain injury, even if it is not in itself serious or life-threatening.
If you have suffered a TBI, there are many things you can do to speed up your recovery. Before getting to the steps themselves, however, it is important to note the following:
- Find a doctor whose advice you trust. Some doctors know more about TBIs than others. When seeking medical advice, do so from the best in the field.
- Know that a clean MRI does not necessarily mean you have the all-clear. Continue to exercise caution and take extra care when returning to work or other activities even if you feel you have fully recovered from your TBI.
- Know that symptoms change, so don’t dismiss anything and take notes on anything different or unusual with your health or mindset as you recover. Some symptoms come and go, so tracking things in a journal is the best way to catch trends or identify other issues you may unknowingly be suffering.
- Finally, do not hide or trivialize any symptoms or disabilities you may have. It may be difficult to come to terms with what you can and cannot do anymore, and it can be difficult to explain your feelings and frustrations to others, even your doctor. However, do not dismiss health symptoms or issues you are facing. Presenting a clear and thorough picture of what you are going through to your doctor or caregiver will help them give you the care and assistance you need.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides details on everything you need to know about TBIs, as well as steps to take while recovering from one. Below we provide a summary of the most important steps you should take to expedite your recovery from a TBI.
Recovering from a TBI
1. Get The Basics Right
You can manage your meds with a plastic medicine keeper to be sure you take your medicine on time and don’t take it twice. Use alarms for reminders for important activities such as exercise or meditation. Stay hydrated and take naps as and when you need them. Keep emergency contact information on you at all times. Be open about your feelings with trusted family members; doing so can help reduces stress, and stress is known to exacerbate various symptoms of TBI.
2. Take It Easy
Avoid physically demanding activities and those that require a great deal of concentration, since these types of activities can worsen your symptoms and slow your recovery. The same goes for participating in recreational sports that can lead to another concussion, returning to work, or driving. Only participate or perform such activities when given permission to do so by your doctor.
3. Stay Positive
Stay positive. Staying positive can help combat the negative thoughts that often arise in the aftermath of a TBI. Staying positive will also help keep you motivated and focused on your goal of getting better. How you think and talk about recovering will affect the way you feel about it, so keep moving forward with a positive mindset. The mind’s ability to heal itself is amazing, so take care of it and keep in good spirits to help in the healing process.
4. You Are Not Alone
Remember that you are not alone. There are millions of people around the world who suffer from or are recovering from a TBI. Isolating yourself can impede your progress. This is why group therapy is so beneficial to those recovering from this life-changing injury.
5. Take Your Time
Every brain injury is different, and your recovery timeline will depend on whether your injury is mild, moderate, or severe, which, in turn, depends on how long you were unconscious and other factors that occurred at the time of injury. Keep this in mind while you recover, and avoid benchmarking yourself against any specific timeline or group. You will recover when you are ready to recover. Take things a step at a time and give your body and mind the time and flexibility they need to recover.
6. Stay Connected
Keep your family and loved ones updated on how things are going. Family members and loved ones play a critical and often under-appreciated role in the recovery of patients after brain injuries, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. TBIs don’t just affect the patient themselves, but they affect the entire family. Your progress through the grief and acceptance stages of your recovery, all the way to being your old self once again, will progress that much faster the more help you have along the way.
TBIs are a serious injury. However, with the help of family and friends, and by following the basic guidelines given above and taking care of your body and mind, your recovery process will be that much quicker and easier.